Tag Archives: Data Integration

How organizations can prepare for 2015 data privacy legislation

Original article can be found here, scmagazine.com

On Jan. 13 the White House announced President Barack Obama’s proposal  for new data privacy legislation, the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act.  Many states have laws today that require corporations and government agencies to notify consumers in the event of a breach – but it is not enough.  This new proposal aims to improve cybersecurity standards nationwide with the following tactics:

Enable cyber-security information sharing between private and public sectors. 

Government agencies and corporations with a vested interest in protecting our information assets need a streamlined way to communicate and share threat information. This component of the proposed legislation incents organizations that participate in knowledge-sharing with targeted liability protection, as long as they are responsible for how they share, manage and retain privacy data.

Modernize the tools law enforcement has to combat cybercrime.
Existing laws, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, need to be updated to incorporate the latest cyber-crime classifications while giving prosecutors the ability to target insiders with privileged access to sensitive and privacy data.  The proposal also specifically calls out pursuing prosecution when selling privacy data nationally and internationally.

Standardize breach notification policies nationwide.
Many states have some sort of policy that requires notification of customers that their data has been compromised.  Three leading examples include California , Florida’s Information Protection Act (FIPA) and Massachusetts Standards for the Protection of Personal Information of Residents of the Commonwealth.  New Mexico, Alabama and South Dakota have no data breach protection legislation.  Enforcing standardization and simplifying the requirement for companies to notify customers and employees when a breach occurs will ensure consistent protection no matter where you live or transact.

Invest in increasing cyber-security skill sets.
For a number of years, security professionals have reported an ever-increasing skills gap in the cybersecurity profession.  In fact, in a recent Ponemon Institute report, 57 percent of respondents said a data breach incident could have been avoided if the organization had more skilled personnel with data security responsibilities. Increasingly, colleges and universities are adding cybersecurity curriculum and degrees to meet the demand. In support of this need, the proposed legislation mentions that the Department of Energy will provide $25 million in educational grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and two national labs to support a cybersecurity education consortium.

This proposal is clearly comprehensive, but it also raises the critical question: How can organizations prepare themselves for this privacy legislation?

The International Association of Privacy Professionals conducted a study of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement actions.  From the report, organizations can infer best practices implied by FTC enforcement and ensure these are covered by their organization’s security architecture, policies and practices:

  • Perform assessments to identify reasonably foreseeable risks to the security, integrity, and confidentiality of personal information collected and stored on the network, online or in paper files.
  • Limited access policies curb unnecessary security risks and minimize the number and type of network access points that an information security team must monitor for potential violations.
  • Limit employee access to (and copying of) personal information, based on employee’s role.
  • Implement and monitor compliance with policies and procedures for rendering information unreadable or otherwise secure in the course of disposal. Securely disposed information must not practicably be read or reconstructed.
  • Restrict third party access to personal information based on business need, for example, by restricting access based on IP address, granting temporary access privileges, or similar procedures.

The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act fills a void at the national level; most states have privacy laws with California pioneering the movement with SB 1386.  However, enforcement at the state AG level has been uneven at best and absent at worse.

In preparing for this national legislation organization need to heed the policies derived from the FTC’s enforcement practices. They can also track the progress of this legislation and look for agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology to issue guidance. Furthermore, organizations can encourage employees to take advantage of cybersecurity internship programs at nearby colleges and universities to avoid critical skills shortages.

With online security a clear priority for President Obama’s administration, it’s essential for organizations and consumers to understand upcoming legislation and learn the benefits/risks of sharing data. We’re looking forward to celebrating safeguarding data and enabling trust on Data Privacy Day, held annually on January 28, and hope that these tips will make 2015 your safest year yet.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Data Integration, Data Security, Data Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Informatica and Pivotal Delivering Great Data to Customers

Informatica and Pivotal Delivering Great Data to Customers

Delivering Great Data to Customers

As we head into Strata + Hadoop World San Jose, Pivotal has made some interesting announcements that are sure to be the talk of the show. Pivotal’s move to open-source some of their advanced products (and to form a new organization to foster Hadoop community cooperation) are signs of the dynamism and momentum of the Big Data market.

Informatica applauds these initiatives by Pivotal and we hope that they will contribute to the accelerating maturity of Hadoop and its expansion beyond early adopters into mainstream industry adoption. By contributing HAWQ, GemFire and the Greenplum Database to the open source community, Pivotal creates further open options in the evolving Hadoop data infrastructure technology. We expect this to be well received by the open source community.

As Informatica has long served as the industry’s neutral data connector for more than 5,500 customers and have developed a rich set of capabilities for Hadoop, we are also excited to see efforts to try to reduce fragmentation in the Hadoop community.

Even before the new company Pivotal was formed, Informatica had a long history working with the Greenplum team to ensure that joint customers could confidently use Informatica tools to include the Greenplum Database in their enterprise data pipelines. Informatica has mature and high-performance native connectivity to load data in and out of Greenplum reliably using Informatica’s codeless, visual data pipelining tools. In 2014, Informatica expanded out Hadoop support to include Pivotal HD Hadoop and we have joint customers using Informatica to do data profiling, transformation, parsing and cleansing using Informatica Big Data Edition running on Pivotal HD Hadoop.

We expect these innovative developments driven by Pivotal in the Big Data technology landscape to help to move the industry forward and contribute to Pivotal’s market progress. We look forward to continuing to support Pivotal technology and to an ever increasing number of successful joint customers. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about how Informatica and Pivotal can help your organization to put Big Data into production. We want to ensure that we can help you answer the question … Are you Big Data Ready?

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How to Ace Application Migration & Consolidation (Hint: Data Management)

Myth Vs Reality: Application Migration & Consolidation

Myth Vs Reality: Application Migration & Consolidation (No, it’s not about dating)

Will your application consolidation or migration go live on time and on budget?  According to Gartner, “through 2019, more than 50% of data migration projects will exceed budget and/or result in some form of business disruption due to flawed execution.”1  That is a scary number by any measure. A colleague of mine put it well: ‘I wouldn’t get on a plane that had 50% chance of failure’. So should you be losing sleep over your migration or consolidation project? Well that depends.  Are you the former CIO of Levi Strauss? Who, according to Harvard Business Review, was forced to resign due to a botched SAP migration project and a $192.5 million earnings write-off?2  If so, perhaps you would feel a bit apprehensive. Otherwise, I say you can be cautiously optimistic, if you go into it with a healthy dose of reality. Please ensure you have a good understanding of the potential pitfalls and how to address them.  You need an appreciation for the myths and realities of application consolidation and migration.

First off, let me get one thing off my chest.  If you don’t pay close attention to your data, throughout the application consolidation or migration process, you are almost guaranteed delays and budget overruns. Data consolidation and migration is at least 30%-40% of the application go-live effort. We have learned this by helping customers deliver over 1500 projects of this type.  What’s worse, if you are not super meticulous about your data, you can be assured to encounter unhappy business stakeholders at the end of this treacherous journey. The users of your new application expect all their business-critical data to be there at the end of the road. All the bells and whistles in your new application will matter naught if the data falls apart.  Imagine if you will, students’ transcripts gone missing, or your frequent-flyer balance a 100,000 miles short!  Need I say more?  Now, you may already be guessing where I am going with this.  That’s right, we are talking about the myths and realities related to your data!   Let’s explore a few of these.

Myth #1: All my data is there.

Reality #1: It may be there… But can you get it? if you want to find, access and move out all the data from your legacy systems, you must have a good set of connectivity tools to easily and automatically find, access and extract the data from your source systems. You don’t want to hand-code this for each source.  Ouch!

Myth #2: I can just move my data from point A to point B.

Reality #2: You can try that approach if you want.  However you might not be happy with the results.  Reality is that there can be significant gaps and format mismatches between the data in your legacy system and the data required by your new application. Additionally you will likely need to assemble data from disparate systems. You need sophisticated tools to profile, assemble and transform your legacy data so that it is purpose-fit for your new application.

Myth #3: All my data is clean.

Reality #3:  It’s not. And here is a tip:  better profile, scrub and cleanse your data before you migrate it. You don’t want to put a shiny new application on top of questionable data . In other words let’s get a fresh start on the data in your new application!

Myth #4: All my data will move over as expected

Reality #4: It will not.  Any time you move and transform large sets of data, there is room for logical or operational errors and surprises.  The best way to avoid this is to automatically validate that your data has moved over as intended.

Myth #5: It’s a one-time effort.

Reality #5: ‘Load and explode’ is formula for disaster.  Our proven methodology recommends you first prototype your migration path and identify a small subset of the data to move over. Then test it, tweak your model, try it again and gradually expand.  More importantly, your application architecture should not be a one-time effort.  It is work in progress and really an ongoing journey.  Regardless of where you are on this journey, we recommend paying close attention to managing your application’s data foundation.

As you can see, there is a multitude of data issues that can plague an application consolidation or migration project and lead to its doom.  These potential challenges are not always recognized and understood early on.  This perception gap is a root-cause of project failure. This is why we are excited to host Philip Russom, of TDWI, in our upcoming webinar to discuss data management best practices and methodologies for application consolidation and migration. If you are undertaking any IT modernization or rationalization project, such as consolidating applications or migrating legacy applications to the cloud or to ‘on-prem’ application, such as SAP, this webinar is a must-see.

So what’s your reality going to be like?  Will your project run like a dream or will it escalate into a scary nightmare? Here’s hoping for the former.  And also hoping you can join us for this upcoming webinar to learn more:

Webinar with TDWI:
Successful Application Consolidation & Migration: Data Management Best Practices.

Date: Tuesday March 10, 10 am PT / 1 pm ET

Don’t miss out, Register Today!

1) Gartner report titled “Best Practices Mitigate Data Migration Risks and Challenges” published on December 9, 2014

2) Harvard Business Review: ‘Why your IT project may be riskier than you think’.

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Posted in Data Integration, Data Migration, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cloud & BigData: Days of Future Past

silos_clouds-data_integrationA lot of the trends we are seeing in enterprise integration today are being driven by the adoption of cloud based technologies from IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. I just was reading this story about a recent survey on cloud adoption and thought that a lot of this sounds very similar to things that we have seen before in enterprise IT.

Why discuss this? What can we learn? A couple of competing quotes come to mind.

Those who forget the past are bound to repeat it. – Edmund Burke

We are doomed to repeat the past no matter what. – Kurt Vonnegut

While every enterprise has to deal with their own complexities there are several past technology adoption patterns that can be used to drive discussion and compare today’s issues in order to drive decisions in how a company designs and deploys their current enterprise cloud architecture. Flexibility in design should be a key goal in addition to satisfying current business and technical requirements. So, what are the big patterns we have seen in the last 25 years that have shaped the cloud integration discussion?

1. 90s: Migration and replacement at the solution or application level. A big trend of the 90s was replacing older home grown systems or main frame based solutions with new packaged software solutions. SAP really started a lot of this with ERP and then we saw the rise of additional solutions for CRM, SCM, HRM, etc.

This kept a lot of people that do data integration very busy. From my point of view this era was very focused on replacement of technologies and this drove a lot of focus on data migration. While there were some scenarios around data integration to leave solutions in place these tended to be more in the area of systems that required transactional integrity and high level of messaging or back office solutions. On the classic front office solutions enterprises in large numbers did rip & replace and migration to new solutions.

2. 00s: Embrace and extend existing solutions with web applications. The rise of the Internet Browser combined with a popular and powerful standard programming language in Java shaped and drove enterprise integration in this time period. In addition, due to many of the mistakes and issues that IT groups had in the 90s there appeared to be a very strong drive to extend existing investments and not do rip and replace. IT and businesses were trying to figure out how to add new solutions to what they had in place. A lot of enterprise integration, service bus and what we consider as classic application development and deployment solutions came to market and were put in place.

3. 00s: Adoption of new web application based packaged solutions. A big part of this trend was driven by .Net & Java becoming more or less the de-facto desired language of enterprise IT. Software vendors not on these platforms were for the most part forced to re-platform or lose customers. New software vendors in many ways had an advantage because enterprises were already looking at large data migration to upgrade the solutions they had in place. In either case IT shops were looking to be either a .Net or Java shop and it caused a lot of churn.

4. 00s: First generation cloud applications and platforms. The first adoption of cloud applications and platforms were driven by projects and specific company needs. From Salesforce.com being used just for sales management before it became a platform to Amazon being used as just a run-time to develop and deploy applications before it became a full scale platform and an every growing list of examples as every vendor wants to be the cloud platform of choice. The integration needs originally were often on the light side because so many enterprises treated it as an experiment at first or a one off for a specific set of users. This has changed a lot in the last 10 years as many companies repeated their on premise silo of data problems in the cloud as they usage went from one cloud app to 2, 5, +10, etc. In fact, if you strip away where a solution happens to be deployed (on prem or cloud) the reality is that if an enterprise had previously had a poorly planned on premise architecture and solution portfolio they probably have just as poorly planned cloud architecture solution and portfolio. Adding them together just leads to disjoint solutions that are hard to integrate, hard to maintain and hard to evolve. In other words the opposite of the being flexible goal.

5. 10s: Consolidation of technology and battle of the cloud platforms. It appears we are just getting started in the next great market consolidation and every enterprise IT group is going to need to decide their own criteria for how they balance current and future investments. Today we have Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Apple, SAP and a few others. In 10 years some of these will either not exist as they do today or be marginalized. No one can say which ones for sure and this is why prioritizing flexibility in terms or architecture for cloud adoption.

For me the main take aways from the past 25 years of technology adoption trends for anyone that thinks about enterprise and data integration would be the following.

a) It’s all starts and ends with data. Yes, applications, process, and people are important but it’s about the data.

b) Coarse grain and loosely coupled approaches to integration are the most flexible. (e.g. avoid point to point at all costs)

c) Design with the knowledge of what data is critical and what data might or should be accessible or movable

d) Identify data and applications that might have to stay where it is no matter what.(e.g. the main frame is never dying)

e) Make sure your integration and application groups have access to or include someone that understand security. While a lot of integration developers think they understand security it’s usually after the fact that you find out they really do not.

So, it’s possible to shape your cloud adoption and architecture future by at least understanding how past technology and solution adoption has shaped the present. For me it is important to remember it is all about the data and prioritizing flexibility as a technology requirement at least at the same level as features and functions. Good luck.

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Federal Migration to Cloud Computing, Hindered by Data Issues

cloud_computing

Moving towards Cloud Computing

As reviewed by Loraine Lawson,  a MeriTalk survey about cloud adoption found that a “In the latest survey of 150 federal executives, nearly one in five say one-quarter of their IT services are fully or partially delivered via the cloud.”

For the most part, the shifts are more tactical in nature.  These federal managers are shifting email (50 percent), web hosting (45 percent) and servers/storage (43 percent).  Most interesting is that they’re not moving traditional business applications, custom business apps, or middleware. Why? Data, and data integration issues.

“Federal agencies are worried about what happens to data in the cloud, assuming they can get it there in the first place:

  • 58 percent of executives fret about cloud-to-legacy system integration as a barrier.
  • 57 percent are worried about migration challenges, suggesting they’re not sure the data can be moved at all.
  • 54 percent are concerned about data portability once the data is in the cloud.
  • 53 percent are worried about ‘contract lock-in.’ ”

The reality is that the government does not get much out of the movement to cloud without committing core business applications and thus core data.  While e-mail and Web hosting, and some storage is good, the real cloud computing money is made when moving away from expensive hardware and software.  Failing to do that, you fail to find the value, and, in this case, spend more taxpayer dollars than you should.

Data issues are not just a concern in the government.  Most larger enterprise have the same issues as well.  However, a few are able to get around these issues with good planning approaches and the right data management and data integration technology.  It’s just a matter of making the initial leap, which most Federal IT executives are unwilling to do.

In working with CIOs of Federal agencies in the last few years, the larger issue is that of funding.  While everyone understands that moving to cloud-based systems will save money, getting there means hiring government integrators and living with redundant systems for a time.  That involves some major money.  If most of the existing budget goes to existing IP operations, then the move may not be practical.  Thus, there should be funds made available to work on the cloud projects with the greatest potential to reduce spending and increase efficiencies.

The shame of this situation is that the government was pretty much on the leading edge with cloud computing. back in 2008 and 2009.  The CIO of the US Government, Vivek Kundra, promoted the use of cloud computing, and NIST drove the initial definitions of “The Cloud,” including IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS.  But, when it came down to making the leap, most agencies balked at the opportunity citing issues with data.

Now that the technology has evolved even more, there is really no excuse for the government to delay migration to cloud-based platforms.  The clouds are ready, and the data integration tools have cloud integration capabilities backed in.  It’s time to see some more progress.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Data Integration, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Are You Ready to Compete on Customer Experience?

 

This blog post initially appeared on CMSwire.com and is reblogged here with their consent.

Are You Ready to Compete on Customer Experience?

Are You Ready to Compete on Customer Experience?

Friends of mine were remodeling their master bath. After searching for a claw foot tub in stores and online, they found the perfect one that fit their space. It was only available for purchase on the retailer’s e-commerce site, they bought it online.

When it arrived, the tub was too big. The dimensions online were incorrect. They went to return it to the closest store, but were told they couldn’t — because it was purchased online, they had to ship it back.

The retailer didn’t have a total customer relationship view or a single view of product information or inventory across channels and touch points. This left the customer representative working with a system that was a silo of limited information. She didn’t have access to a rich customer profile. She didn’t know that Joe and his wife spent almost $10,000 with the brand in the last year. She couldn’t see the products they bought online and in stores. Without this information, she couldn’t deliver a great customer experience.

It was a terrible customer experience. My friends share it with everyone who asks about their remodel. They name the retailer when they tell the story. And, they don’t shop there anymore. This terrible customer experience is negatively impacting the retailer’s revenue and brand reputation.

Bad customer experiences happen a lot. Companies in the US lose an estimated $83 billion each year due to defections and abandoned purchases as a direct result of a poor experience, according to a Datamonitor/Ovum report.

Customer Experience is the New Marketing

Gartner believes that by 2016, companies will compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver. So who should own customer experience?

Twenty-five percent of CMOs say that their CEOs expect them to lead customer experience. What’s their definition of customer experience? “The practice of centralizing customer data in an effort to provide customers with the best possible interactions with every part of the company, from marketing to sales and even finance.”

Mercedes Benz USA President and CEO, Steve Cannon said, “Customer experience is the new marketing.”

The Gap Between Customer Expectations + Your Ability to Deliver

My previous post, 3 Barriers to Delivering Omnichannel Experiences, explained how omnichannel is all about seeing your business through the eyes of your customer. Customers don’t think in terms of channels and touch points, they just expect a seamless, integrated and consistent customer experience. It’s one brand to the customer. But there’s a gap between customer expectations and what most businesses can deliver today.

Most companies who sell through multiple channels operate in silos. They are channel-centric rather than customer-centric. This business model doesn’t empower employees to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels and touch points. Different leaders manage each channel and are held accountable to their own P&L. In most cases, there’s no incentive for leaders to collaborate.

Old Navy’s CMO, Ivan Wicksteed got it right when he said,

“Seventy percent of searches for Old Navy are on a mobile device. Consumers look at the product online and often want to touch it in the store. The end goal is not to get them to buy in the store. The end goal is to get them to buy.”

The end goal is what incentives should be based on.

Executives at most organizations I’ve spoken with admit they are at the very beginning stages of their journey to becoming omnichannel retailers. They recognize that empowering employees with a total customer relationship view and a single view of product information and inventory across channels are critical success factors.

Becoming an omnichannel business is not an easy transition. It forces executives to rethink their definition of customer-centricity and whether their business model supports it. “Now that we need to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels and touch points, we realized we’re not as customer-centric as we thought we were,” admitted an SVP of marketing at a financial services company.

You Have to Transform Your Business

“We’re going through a transformation to empower our employees to deliver great customer experiences at every stage of the customer journey,” said Chris Brogan, SVP of Strategy and Analytics at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. “Our competitive differentiation comes from knowing our customers better than our competitors. We manage our customer data like a strategic asset so we can use that information to serve customers better and build loyalty for our brand.”

Hyatt uses data integration, data quality and master data management (MDM) technology to connect the numerous applications that contain fragmented customer data including sales, marketing, e-commerce, customer service and finance. It brings the core customer profiles together into a single, trusted location, where they are continually managed. Now its customer profiles are clean, de-duplicated, enriched and validated. Members of a household as well as the connections between corporate hierarchies are now visible. Business and analytics applications are fueled with this clean, consistent and connected information so customer-facing teams can do their jobs more effectively.

When he first joined Hyatt, Brogan did a search for his name in the central customer database and found 13 different versions of himself. This included the single Chris Brogan who lived across the street from Wrigley Field with his buddies in his 20s and the Chris Brogan who lives in the suburbs with his wife and two children. “I can guarantee those two guys want something very different from a hotel stay,” he joked. Those guest profiles have now been successfully consolidated.

According to Brogan,

“Successful marketing, sales and customer experience initiatives need to be built on a solid customer data foundation. It’s much harder to execute effectively and continually improve if your customer data is a mess.”

Improving How You Manage, Use and Analyze Data is More Important Than Ever

Improving How You Manage, Use and Analyze Data is More Important Than Ever

Improving How You Manage, Use and Analyze Data is More Important Than Ever

Some companies lack a single view of product information across channels and touch points. About 60 percent of retail managers believe that shoppers are better connected to product information than in-store associates. That’s a problem. The same challenges exist for product information as customer information. How many different systems contain valuable product information?

Harrods overcame this challenge. The retailer has a strategic initiative to transform from a single iconic store to an omnichannel business. In the past, Harrods’ merchants managed information for about 500,000 products for the store point of sale system and a few catalogs. Now they are using product information management technology (PIM) to effectively manage and merchandise 1.7 million products in the store and online.

Because they are managing product information centrally, they can fuel the ERP system and e-commerce platform with full, searchable multimedia product information. Harrods has also reduced the time it takes to introduce new products and generate revenue from them. In less than one hour, buyers complete the process from sourcing to market readiness.

It Ends with Satisfied Customers

By 2016, you will need to be ready to compete primarily on the customer experiences you deliver across channels and touch points. This means really knowing who your customers are so you can serve them better. Many businesses will transform from a channel-centric business model to a truly customer-centric business model. They will no longer tolerate messy data. They will recognize the importance of arming marketing, sales, e-commerce and customer service teams with the clean, consistent and connected customer, product and inventory information they need to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent experiences across touch points. And all of us will be more satisfied customers.

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Posted in 5 Sales Plays, CMO, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Quality, Master Data Management, PiM | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Garbage In, Garbage Out? Don’t Take Data for Granted in Analytics Initiatives!

Cant trust data_1The verdict is in. Data is now broadly perceived as a source of competitive advantage. We all feel the heat to deliver good data. It is no wonder organizations view Analytics initiatives as highly strategic. But the big question is, can you really trust your data? Or are you just creating pretty visualizations on top of bad data?

We also know there is a shift towards self-service Analytics. But did you know that according to Gartner, “through 2016, less than 10% of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business”?1 This means that you may actually show up at your next big meeting and have data that contradicts your colleague’s data.  Perhaps you are not working off of the same version of the truth. Maybe you have siloed data on different systems and they are not working in concert? Or is your definition of ‘revenue’ or ‘leads’ different from that of your colleague’s?

So are we taking our data for granted? Are we just assuming that it’s all available, clean, complete, integrated and consistent?  As we work with organizations to support their Analytics journey, we often find that the harsh realities of data are quite different from perceptions. Let’s further investigate this perception gap.

For one, people may assume they can easily access all data. In reality, if data connectivity is not managed effectively, we often need to beg borrow and steal to get the right data from the right person. If we are lucky. In less fortunate scenarios, we may need to settle for partial data or a cheap substitute for the data we really wanted. And you know what they say, the only thing worse than no data is bad data. Right?

Another common misperception is: “Our data is clean. We have no data quality issues”.  Wrong again.  When we work with organizations to profile their data, they are often quite surprised to learn that their data is full of errors and gaps.  One company recently discovered within one minute of starting their data profiling exercise, that millions of their customer records contained the company’s own address instead of the customers’ addresses… Oops.

Another myth is that all data is integrated.  In reality, your data may reside in multiple locations: in the cloud, on premise, in Hadoop and on mainframe and anything in between. Integrating data from all these disparate and heterogeneous data sources is not a trivial task, unless you have the right tools.

And here is one more consideration to mull over. Do you find yourself manually hunting down and combining data to reproduce the same ad hoc report over and over again? Perhaps you often find yourself doing this in the wee hours of the night? Why reinvent the wheel? It would be more productive to automate the process of data ingestion and integration for reusable and shareable reports and Analytics.

Simply put, you need great data for great Analytics. We are excited to host Philip Russom of TDWI in a webinar to discuss how data management best practices can enable successful Analytics initiatives. 

And how about you?  Can you trust your data?  Please join us for this webinar to learn more about building a trust-relationship with your data!

  1. Gartner Report, ‘Predicts 2015: Power Shift in Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Fuel Disruption’; Authors: Josh Parenteau, Neil Chandler, Rita L. Sallam, Douglas Laney, Alan D. Duncan; Nov 21 2014
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Posted in Architects, Business/IT Collaboration, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Warehousing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Synergies of SaaS and Data Integration

Synergies of SaaS and Data Integration

Synergies of SaaS and Data Integration

Loraine Lawson provides some great insights into the world of data integration, and this article is no exception.  The topic struck me due to the fact that we’ve wrestled with SaaS integration issues for about 10 years now.

Back in 2004, we saw the rapid growth of SaaS providers such as Salesforce.com.  However, there was typically no consistent data integration strategy to go along with the use of SaaS.  In many instances, SaaS-delivered applications became the new data silos in the enterprise, silos that lacked a sound integration plan and integration technology.

10 years later, we’ve gotten to a point where we have the ability to solve problems using SaaS and data integration problems around the use of SaaS.  However, we typically lack the knowledge and understanding of how to effectively use data integration technology within an enterprise to integrate SaaS problem domains.

Lawson looks at both sides of the SaaS integration argument.  “Surveys certainly show that integration is less of a concern for SaaS than in the early days, when nearly 88 percent of SaaS companies said integration concerns would slow down adoption and more than 88 percent said it’s an important or extremely important factor in winning new customers.”

Again, while we’ve certainly gotten better at integration, we’re nowhere near being out of the woods.  “A Dimensional Research survey of 350 IT executives showed that 67 percent cited data integration problems as a challenge with SaaS business applications. And as with traditional systems, integration can add hidden costs to your project if you ignore it.”

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, integration requires a bit of planning and the use of solid technology.  While this does require some extra effort and money, the return on the value of this work is huge.

SaaS integration requires that you take a bit of a different approach than traditional enterprise integration.  SaaS systems typically place your data behind well-defined APIs that can be accessed directly or through a data integration technology.  While the information can be consumed by anything that can invoke an API, enterprises still have to deal with structure and content differences, and that’s typically best handled using the right data integration technology.

Other things to consider, things that are again often overlooked, is the need for both data governance and data security around your SaaS integration solution.  There should be a centralized control mechanism to support the proper management and security of the data, as well as a mechanism to deal with data quality issues that often emerge when consuming data from any cloud computing services.

The reality is that SaaS is here to stay.  Even enterprise software players that put off the move to SaaS-delivered systems, are not standing up SaaS offerings.  The economics around the use of SaaS are just way to compelling.  However, as SaaS-delivered systems become more common place, so will the emergence of new silos.  This will not be an issue, if you leverage the right SaaS integration approach and technology.  What will your approach be?

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Posted in B2B, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, SaaS | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Is Your Data Ready to Maximize Value from Your CRM Investments?

Is Your Data Ready to Maximize Value from Your CRM Investments?

Is Your Data Ready to Maximize Value from Your CRM Investments?

A friend of mine recently reached out to me about some advice on CRM solutions in the market.  Though I have not worked for a CRM vendor, I’ve had both direct experience working for companies that implemented such solutions to my current role interacting with large and small organizations regarding their data requirements to support ongoing application investments across industries. As we spoke, memories started to surface when he and I had worked on implementing Salesforce.com (SFDC) many years ago. Memories that we wanted to forget but important to call out given his new situation.

We worked together for a large mortgage lending software vendor selling loan origination solutions to brokers and small lenders mainly through email and snail mail based marketing.  He was responsible for Marketing Operations, and I ran Product Marketing. The company looked at Salesforce.com to help streamline our sales operations  and improve how we marketed and serviced our customers.  The existing CRM system was from the early 90’s and though it did what the company needed it to do, it was heavily customized, costly to operate, and served its life. It was time to upgrade, to help grow the business, improve business productivity, and enhance customer relationships.

After 90 days of rolling out SFDC, we ran into some old familiar problems across the business.  Sales reps continued to struggle in knowing who was a current customer using our software, marketing managers could not create quality mailing lists for prospecting purposes, and call center reps were not able to tell if the person on the other end was a customer or prospect. Everyone wondered why this was happening given we adopted the best CRM solution in the market.  You can imagine the heartburn and ulcers we all had after making such a huge investment in our new CRM solution.  C-Level executives were questioning our decisions and blaming the applications. The truth was, the issues were not related to SFDC but the data that we had migrated into the system and the lack proper governance and a capable information architecture to support the required data management integration between systems that caused these significant headaches.

During the implementation phase, IT imported our entire customer database of 200K+ unique customer entities from the old system to SFDC. Unfortunately, the mortgage industry was very transient and on average there were roughly 55K licenses mortgage brokers and lenders in the market and because no one ever validated the accuracy of who was really a customer vs. someone who had ever bought out product, we had a serious data quality issues including:

  • Trial users  who purchased evaluation copies of our products that expired were tagged as current customers
  • Duplicate records caused by manual data entry errors consisting of companies with similar but entered slightly differently with the same business address were tagged as unique customers
  • Subsidiaries of parent companies in different parts of the country that were tagged again as a unique customer.
  • Lastly, we imported the marketing contact database of prospects which were incorrectly accounted for as a customer in the new system

We also failed to integrate real-time purchasing data and information from our procurement systems for sales and support to handle customer requests. Instead of integrating that data in real-time with proper technology, IT had manually loaded these records at the end of the week via FTP resulting in incorrect billing information, statement processing, and a ton of complaints from customers through our call center. The price we paid for not paying attention to our data quality and integration requirements before we rolled out Salesforce.com was significant for a company of our size. For example:

  • Marketing got hit pretty hard. Each quarter we mailed evaluation copies of new products to our customer database of 200K, each costing the company $12 per to produce and mail. Total cost = $2.4M annually.  Because we had such bad data,  we would get 60% of our mailings returned because of invalid addresses or wrong contact information. The cost of bad data to marketing = $1.44M annually.
  • Next, Sales struggled miserably when trying to upgrade a customer by running cold call campaigns using the names in the database. As a result, sales productivity dropped by 40% and experienced over 35% sales turnover that year. Within a year of using SFDC, our head of sales got let go. Not good!
  • Customer support used SFDC to service customers, our average all times were 40 min per service ticket. We had believed that was “business as usual” until we surveyed what reps were spending their time each day and over 50% said it was dealing with billing issues caused by bad contact information in the CRM system.

At the end of our conversation, this was my advice to my friend:

  • Conduct a data quality audit of the systems that would interact with the CRM system. Audit how complete your critical master and reference data is including names, addresses, customer ID, etc.
  • Do this before you invest in a new CRM system. You may find that much of the challenges faced with your existing applications may be caused by the data gaps vs. the legacy application.
  • If they had a data governance program, involve them in the CRM initiative to ensure they understand what your requirements are and see how they can help.
  • However, if you do decide to modernize, collaborate and involve your IT teams, especially between your Application Development teams and your Enterprise Architects to ensure all of the best options are considered to handle your data sharing and migration needs.
  • Lastly, consult with your technology partners including your new CRM vendor, they may be working with solution providers to help address these data issues as you are probably not the only one in this situation.

Looking Ahead!

CRM systems have come a long way in today’s Big Data and Cloud Era. Many firms are adopting more flexible solutions offered through the Cloud like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, and others. Regardless of how old or new, on premise or in the cloud, companies invest in CRM not to just serve their sales teams or increase marketing conversion rates, but to improve your business relationship with your customers. Period! It’s about ensuring you have data in these systems that is trustworthy, complete, up to date, and actionable to improve customer service and help drive sales of new products and services to increase wallet share. So how to do you maximize your business potential from these critical business applications?

Whether you are adopting your first CRM solution or upgrading an existing one, keep in mind that Customer Relationship Management is a business strategy, not just a software purchase. It’s also about having a sound and capable data management and governance strategy supported by people, processes, and technology to ensure you can:

  • Access and migrate data from old to new avoiding develop cost overruns and project delays.
  • Identify, detect, and distribute transactional and reference data from existing systems into your front line business application in real-time!
  • Manage data quality errors including duplicate records, invalid names and contact information due to proper data governance and proactive data quality monitoring and measurement during and after deployment
  • Govern and share authoritative master records of customer, contact, product, and other master data between systems in a trusted manner.

Will your data be ready for your new CRM investments?  To learn more:

Follow me on Twitter @DataisGR8

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Posted in Architects, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, CMO, Customer Acquisition & Retention, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 3 Little Architects and the Big Bad Mr. Wolf – A Data Parody for today’s Financial Industry

The 3 Little Architects and the Big Bad Wolf

The 3 Little Architects

Once upon a time, there were 3 Information Architects working in the financial services industry, each with different firms and backgrounds but all responsible for recommending the right technology solutions to help their firms comply with industry regulations including ongoing bank stress testing across the globe.  Since 2008, bank regulators have been focused on measuring systemic risk and requiring banks to provide transparency into how risk is measured and reported to support their capital adequacy needs.

The first architect grew through the ranks starting as a Database Administrator, a black belt in SQL and COBOL programming. Hand coding was their DNA for many years and thought of as the best approach given how customized their business and systems were vs. other organizations. As such, Architect #1 and their team went down the path of building their data management capabilities through custom hand coded scripts, manual data extractions and transformations, and dealing with data quality issues through the business organizations after the data is delivered.   Though their approach and decisions delivered on their short term needs, the firm realized the overhead required to make changes and respond to new requests driven by new industry regulations and changing market conditions.

The second architect is a “gadget guy” at heart who grew up using off the shelf tools vs. hand coding for managing data. He and his team decides not to hand code their data management processes, instead adopt and built their solution leveraging best of breed tools, some of which were open source, others from existing solutions the company had from previous projects for data integration, data quality, and metadata management.  Though their tools helped automate much of the “heavy lifting” he and is IT team were still responsible for integrating these point solutions to work together which required ongoing support and change management.

The last architect is as technically competent as his peers however understood the value of building something once to use across the business. His approach was a little different than the first two. Understanding the risks and costs of hand coding or using one off tools to do the work, he decided to adopt an integrated platform designed to handle the complexities, sources, and volumes of data required by the business.  The platform also incorporated shared metadata, reusable data transformation rules and mappings, a single source of required master and reference data, and provided agile development capabilities to reduce the cost of implementation and ongoing change management. Though this approach was more expensive to implement, the long term cost benefit and performance benefits made the decision a “no brainer’.

Lurking in the woods is Mr. Wolf. Mr. Wolf is not your typical antagonist however is a regulatory auditor whose responsibility is to ensure these banks can explain how risk is calculated as reported to the regulatory authorities. His job isn’t to shut these banks down, instead making sure the financial industry is able to measure risk across the enterprise, explain how risk is measured, and ensure these firms are adequately capitalized as mandated by new and existing industry regulations.

Mr. Wolf visits the first bank for an annual stress test audit. Looking at the result of their stress test, he asks the compliance teams to explain how their data was produced, transformed, calculated, to support the risk measurements they reported as part of the audit. Unfortunately, due to the first architect’s recommendations of hand coding their data management processes, IT failed to provide explanations and documentation on what they did, they found the developers that created their systems were no longer with the firm. As a result, the bank failed miserably, resulting in stiff penalties and higher audit costs.

Next, Architect #2’s bank was next. Having heard of what happened to their peer in the news, the architect and IT teams were confident that they were in good shape to pass their stress test audit. After digging into the risk reports, Mr. Wolf questioned the validity of the data used to calculate Value at Risk (VaR). Unfortunately, the tools that were adopted were never designed nor guaranteed by the vendors to work with each other resulting in invalid data mapping and data quality rules and gaps within their technical metadata documentation. As a result, bank #2 also failed their audit and found themselves with a ton of on one-off tools that helped automate their data management processes but lacked the integration and sharing of rules and metadata to satisfy the regulator’s demand for risk transparency.

Finally, Mr. Wolf investigated Architect #3’s firm. Having seen the result of the first two banks, Mr. Wolf was leery of their ability to pass their stress test audits. Similar demands were presented by Mr. Wolf however this time, Bank #3 provided detailed and comprehensive metadata documentation of their risk data measurements, descriptions of the data used in each report, an comprehensive report of each data quality rule used to cleanse their data, and detailed information on each counterparty and legal entity used to calculate VaR.  Unable to find gaps in their audit, Mr. Wolf, expecting to “blow” the house down, delivered a passing grade for Bank 3 and their management team due to the right investments they made to support their enterprise risk data management needs.

The moral of this story, similar to the familiar one involving the three little pigs is about the importance of having a solid foundation to weather market and regulatory storms or the violent bellow of a big bad wolf.  A foundation that includes the required data integration, data quality, master data management, and metadata management needs but also supports collaboration and visibility of how data is produced, used, and performing across the business. Ensuring current and future compliance in today’s financial services industry requires firms to have a solid data management platform, one that is intelligent, comprehensive, and allows Information Architects to help mitigate the risks and costs of hand coding or using point tools to get by only in the short term.

Are you prepared to meet Mr. Wolf?

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Posted in Architects, Banking & Capital Markets, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Integration Platform, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment